How Leaders Can Play the Loyalty Card  

3 April 2018:

In his 2007 book Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and Life, a well-known real estate developer and reality television star discussed employee loyalty at length. “I value loyalty above everything else — more than brains, more than drive, and more than energy,” he wrote.

But is that an effective people strategy for a large-scale organization? Probably not. The idea that leaders should place personal loyalty above all else when appraising employees is something of an outlier in the literature of management. Experts have a lot to say about the duty of CEOs to employees. But vice versa? Not so much. In the few instances I’ve found in which loyalty arises as an employee duty, it’s always framed as loyalty to the company or the company’s mission, not as personal loyalty to the CEO.

hat doesn’t mean that employee loyalty isn’t important to leaders. It is, in fact, vitally important. Leaders need people who will stand by them when the going gets tough, who won’t undermine them as they seek to execute plans, who will trust them when the way forward isn’t entirely clear, and who won’t sell them out at the drop of a hat.

But how do you get loyal employees? It seems there are three common approaches.

The Pledge. The first — and probably the original — approach to employee loyalty is the explicit demand. This approach spawned the loyalty oaths of yore (think of the knight kneeling before the king and swearing allegiance). But the days of swearing personal oaths are pretty much gone. In the U.S., from the president on down to the lowest-ranking soldiers, public servants take an oath pledging loyalty to the Constitution and the country — not to an individual. Of course, plenty of leaders, in both the public and private sector, continue to extract specific personal loyalty oaths from their appointees and employees.

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Source: strategy+business

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